USG discusses return of GUARD Dogs sober rides program at Wednesday meeting

Members of the Undergraduate Student Government at their weekly meeting on Wednesday, April 23, 2015. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation with the aim of returning the GUARD Dogs sober rides program to UConn, the first step in bringing the program back as soon as fall 2015.

“We’ve been working on this since September 2014,” Senator Eliza Conrad, said. “The passage of this bill means we have policies in place for GUARD Dogs to function. This gives USG the ability to have this program, working with groups like SABO and the executive committee.”

The process now falls to the UConn Student Activities Business Office, or SABO. The organization is expected to approve the guidelines for the return of GUARD Dogs by this coming Monday. That would be followed by an announcement in the Daily Digest email to recruit students for a committee to oversee the program’s transition back into campus life.

“USG would approve of the policies and procedures outlined in the new GUARD Dogs Strategic Planning Document and Constitution,” according to the bill. “Ad-Hoc GUARD Dogs restructuring Committee Chairperson will work with Executive Director for Programs, Student Activities, and incoming GUARD Dogs Executive Committee to ensure a stable transition process.”

Conrad cautioned members that the bill would have to be approved by other organizations. Even if SABO approves GUARD Dogs, it will take several months of work, much of it taking place during the summer vacation, to ensure a smooth transition for the program.

“This is a little weird because it’s just the first round, [SABO’s] not like USG or SUBOG. It has to be done during final weeks or right after, because there’s work that has to be done over the summer,” Conrad said. “This is just the way it has to be done with Student Activities.”

Current Funding Board Chairperson, Rishita Jones, was nominated to oversee the Program Oversight Committee that will be responsible for GUARD Dogs’ transition, and was unanimously approved by the senate.

In other business, the Senate approved $1999.90 for the Japanese Student Association in order to hold the Sakura Matsuri, a traditional cherry blossom festival. The funds would be used to reimburse the group for purchases of the trees appropriate for the festival.

The Senate also approved the majority of a bill to reform funding board policy, primarily aimed at the recording, mixing and mastering of CDs by student music groups. Debate arose, however, over a clause to add a section of USG funding to Tier II funding policies regarding budgeting audits.

The Senate chose instead to pass the larger portion of the bill, while tabling the controversial portion until fall 2015.

The Senate voted down a bill to prioritize the diversification of the Senate, in order to be more representative of the makeup of the campus.

“The Undergraduate Student Government will make as a priority the diversification of this body to be more representative of the campus as a whole,” according to the legislation.

The bill, which was authored by Senators Natalie Vieira and Christina de Vecchis, was passed after several senators voiced their hopes that individuals who committed acts of vandalism in the Union would take notice of USG’s intolerance of hateful behavior and acts.

When asked about the future of GUARD Dogs and how long it would be before students will be able to take full advantage of the program, Conrad said the goal is to get the program running as soon as possible, although she was unable to establish a specific timeframe due to the nature of the process.

“The goal is to get GUARD Dogs running as soon as possible,” Conrad said. “It’s just been a tedious process, but we’re working to get this done for the students.”